Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends
Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch
This time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.
If your festivities will include someone with a year or more in recovery, you may simply want to ask if there is anything you can do to make the holiday better for them. They may want to bring a friend who’s also in recovery. They may have beverage preferences or want the flexibility to step out for a short while, either to attend a mutual aid meeting (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery), make a call, or Continue reading
What’s In A Name?
~ Brian Sherman, PhD, Center for Motivation and Change
“By continuing to use the term “addict” and “alcoholic,” treatment providers are doing a disservice to their patients and potentially negating progress towards destigmatization and successful long-term treatment.”
What’s in a name? Sure, by any other name a rose may smell so sweet, but by any other name would an “addict” feel so stigmatized? Were Shakespeare alive today I would ask that he reconsider his stance. With the gradual pace of change in addiction treatment highlighted by the continued advancement and implementation of evidence-based treatments, why is the field so far behind in not using more clinically appropriate and de-stigmatizing — albeit a bit cumbersome – language such as: “person with a substance use disorder” or “person suffering from addiction”? It has been years now that the field of clinical psychology did away with stigmatizing terms such as “schizophrenic”, “manic-depressive”, or “autistic.” Why then does the field of addiction remain so far behind?
As an addiction psychologist I do not discourage my patients for whom the term “addict” works. If it motivates them to change, fantastic. For many people, the term “addict” is a helpful way of identifying symptoms and issues, and finding a way to connect and bond with others in a healthy way that promotes change. However, when that term creates a prolonged sense of failure or guilt which ultimately may lead to relapse (negative emotions are one of the strongest predictors of relapse) or prevent someone from seeking help in the first place (because they don’t want to accept the label, and the stigma that is associated with it), I question its utility. Continue reading
SMART Recovery is a self-empowerment program for people having problems with addictive behavior. We currently sponsor more than 1300 face-to-face addiction recovery meetings around the world, and 30 online meetings per week. When an individual in crisis seeks out a SMART meeting, or a professional refers someone to a meeting, it can be helpful to know what to expect. This post is intended to be a quick primer on the elements of a SMART meeting so that people who are new to attending meetings – either face-to-face or online – know what to expect.
Two things to know: First, meeting facilitators are trained by SMART. Some are people who have participated in the SMART program, some are professionals (eg. counselors or social workers), some are friends or family of those who have used the SMART program, and some are concerned citizens willing to provide a meeting in their community. Continue reading
In Epidemics, Hippocrates said, “Make a habit of two things–to help, or at least to do no harm.” How can we apply that idea to helping family and friends with addictions?
When we care about individuals who are trying to overcome addictions, we often face dilemmas in how best to help them. For instance, if I help someone by providing money for some critical need, am I supporting recovery by preventing some degree of “disaster”? Or am I just shielding the person from negative consequences that might motivate lasting behavior change? The latter, of course, is AKA the E word: Enabling. This article will identify some things to consider when you face that kind of decision.
What is support? I suggest that support, at its root, consists of two things: paying attention and active helping. I could pay attention to a friend who wants to quit smoking by listening to her talk about her cravings to smoke and how she copes with these cravings. I could actively help her by informing her of new tobacco cessation products (if she was unfamiliar with them). I could take her to a SMART Recovery® meeting (especially if she felt awkward going alone), or spend a non-smoking evening with her (when her other options were to be alone or be with smokers).
Lessons from Geese
-Bill Abbott, SMART Recovery® Facilitator
SMART Recovery is a wonderful program that emphasizes self-management and self-empowerment. For this it offers tools based on sound and often evidence-based science—mostly clinical psychology but some neuroscience as well.
With all the emphasis on “self”—almost a do-it-yourself program—we often lose sight of another powerful feature of SMART—the mutual support groups in which all this is developed and promoted.
We like company, lots of the time—especially with like-minded people, hence the shelter and safety and power of a mutual support group complex. Like-minded people all in a room together discussing a common issue. A place were the afflicted can relax, become honest and open with their issues, without worry of judgment. This is present in both 12-steps groups and in SMART Recovery groups.
In my opinion SMART groups have the added feature of interactive discussion, promoting the feelings of like-mindedness and that “we are all in this together”. We are all united in spirit and intent to find relief for ourselves, and in so doing share that with others. All this falls under the concept of Compassion.
Many state that they go to 12-step meetings for “spirituality“ and attend SMART meetings for the tools and solutions. The implication is that there is no spirituality at SMART. Continue reading
Coping Skills Help Make Behavior Change Last
~Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D., Center for Motivation and Change
Making a change in your life is a pretty big deal. If you’ve moved into the action stage of change, we’d first like to first offer you a huge congratulations! This is a bold move, and one that deserves a lot of praise! Next we’d like to offer you some helpful tips to help make this change a little bit easier, and hopefully a lot more permanent!
Learn a few coping skills
You may have heard this term, coping skills, before and you may not really know what it means. Coping skills are things that you can do to help tolerate a difficult time by using constructive and positive strategies. More specifically, coping skills are what you need to tolerate the difficult moments that come along with making a significant change in your life (like giving up an unhealthy habit, learning a healthy behavior, not giving into impulses, etc.).
When we talk about coping skills, we can break them up into two categories, Continue reading